February 10, 2014
Washington, D.C.: Today, eleven members of the House of Representatives joined a public letter to Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang calling for the release of three imprisoned labor rights activists. Among the signatories are Representatives Frank Wolf and James McGovern, the Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and Representative Chris Van Hollen, who adopted the case as part of the Commission’s Defending Freedoms Project.
Arrested in 2010, Do Thi Minh Hanh, Doan Huy Chuong, and Nguyen Quoc Hung are currently serving between seven and nine years in prison as a result of their activism on behalf of workers. The Vietnamese government arrested the trio after they attempted to organize striking workers at a shoe factory in My Phong and distributed leaflets with the workers’ demands. During the trial, the government denied Do, Doan, and Nguyen access to lawyers and prevented them from speaking in their own defense. All three have been beaten and forced to perform hard labor–Do in particular is deaf in one ear as a result of the beatings and is believed to be suffering from breast cancer.
In the letter, the Representatives condemn the “the considerable plight faced by independent labor activists in Vietnam,” noting that the imprisonment has already been found by the United Nations to violate international law. They close by stating that “For there to be any enhanced engagement between the United States and Vietnam—including expanded trade ties—Vietnam must address such cases,” and urge President Sang to “facilitate the immediate release” of the activists.
“While these activists are just three of many prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, their case is especially important as Vietnam and the U.S. negotiate a trade deal that reportedly includes labor protections,” said Freedom Now Executive Director Maran Turner.
Greg McGillivary, a partner at Washington, D.C. law firm Woodley and McGillivary, added that “this is a crucial recognition that Do, Doan, and Nguyen must be immediately released and provided access to urgently needed medical attention. Their continued imprisonment is a clear violation of Vietnam’s obligations under international law and we will continue campaigning on their behalf until they are freed and allowed to return to their important work.”
The full text of the letter is available in the PDF below. Freedom Now and Woodley & McGillivary serve as international pro bono co-counsel to Do, Doan, and Nguyen